Users respond to the Dove Evolution viral

208304063_21cd46c157_m.jpgThere has been much discussion of Dove’s “Evolution” viral. (on youtube and Dove’s site)

While some of the fundamental marketing questions still need to be answered (do users associate this clip with Dove? Will/Does it influence purchase decisions / loyalty and more…), its phenomenal viral exposure cannot be argued. A powerful demonstration of potential.

The distortion of body images when representing beauty is a very old tradition (If I remember correctly, Michelangelo’s Adam on the Sistine Chapel misses a rib and sits in an anatomically impossible, yet arguably flattering position). However, there is no doubt that in our times the very rigid types of female looks represented by mass media, and further distorted using digital wizardry, has become an oppressive force threatening the emotional, and often physical well being of women everywhere. (Some thoughtful words on the subject and comments worth reading on Dana Boyd’s blog )

The strength and appeal of the subject is apparent in the ripple effect of user created content around the same theme. The Dove clip drove many web users, especially personal bloggers, to try and explore digitally manipulating themselves. You can find videos in the related videos list of the clip on you-tube.

Liat Bar-On, who is among Israel’s most widely read personal bloggers (placing her in the top-10 will be a careful estimate) created an interesting project that takes this exercise a step further.
Bar-On uploaded untouched photographs of herself to Flickr and called upon users to modify her image with flattering, yet quite alien, results. Liat’s blog, written in Hebrew, often deals with feminine identity and body perception themes, but since her Photoshock project is largely visual, you can enjoy it even if you don’t read Hebrew. Many comments on flickr say – “you are better off without the Photoshop treatment”.

I find the user created responses to Dove fascinating, it is as if through retouching themselves, and manipulating their own digital representation, users can reaffirm their feeling in their true body, and experience an apparent sense of liberation through mutating themselves, looking at it and being able to recognise how ridiculous and distorted standards have become.

This post has been getting quite a lot of traffic from new visitors. Hello and welcome!
If you like this post, you may want to read just what do i mean by “Marketing Babylon”
Since this isn’t a high traffic blog, you may also consider subscribing via RSS or e-mail (from the form on on the right hand column).

Foot-note: Cyberspace’s role in the way users project, explore and develop their identity through personal expression and social interaction is a favourite subject. In an article I published about the subject about two years ago, my main argument was that the basic experience of the self online is a contradictory mix of a sense of liberation (the opportunity to reinvent yourself, being free from historical prejudices you may have collected or are related to your social group etc.) and a feeling of anxiety for pretty much the same reasons (the pressure of getting across right, losing your familiar social assets, the sense of your body etc.). It’s interesting how users tap the different poles of this experience as they explore their individuality.


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BlogDay 2006 recommendations

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The way I see it, BlogDay is an opportunity to recommend blogs that are not the usual suspects. So here are some blogs I think deserve more recognition.

  1. Assi Sharabi is an anthropologistsocial-psychologist-come-planner, who keeps getting cool ideas like analysing the youtube leader board.
  2. Anecdote is narrative lead organisational consulting group-blog from Australia.
  3. Nova Spivack writes dense musings about the web and points to thought provoking science news.
  4. Raph Koster’s ideas about gaming are too good to be kept just for that. Let’s steal them for marketing.
  5. Ben Hammresley is renaissance action guy. Coding for the guardian, Snapping in Afghanistan and writing. I’m sure his upcoming Octet book will kick ass.

For Hebrew recommendations, I have another blogday post in my Hebrew blog.

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So many pies, so few fingers

90068113_ca38e46a46_m.jpgWell, I said this was going to be a low traffic blog, and I certainly over-delivered…

Apologies.

The last two months were dedicated to client projects.
This included a pitch on a very cool project, which the team and I won over two of the world’s leading brand design agencies (no pressure there…), and heading straight into the deep end of strategic design work. Unfortunately I can’t tell anything about it until January.

Extra-curricular projects also demanded attention. Notes.co.il, a blog platform, just about doubled traffic in the last 6 months or so. This amount of attention naturally requires some management, a sign that the project matures. Additionally, I had the pleasure of doing some worFoxyTunese FoxyTunes people, probably one of the coolest Israeli web start-ups out there.

What to expect over the coming months?
There’s a series of short posts in draft stage about marketing and stories. Focusing on “advanced aspects” of marketing communications and storytelling. There’s a (grateful) Basecamp case study, some viral marketing ideas, and if my courage doesn’t betray me – since the marketing babylon and sins posts were slightly on the ranting side – some ideas about what the alternative principles could be.

Sinfully late appendix and summary

90738738_7a0f35b343_m.jpgA late but warm thank you to people adding sins to the list:

Shawn Callahan

I would add to your list a reluctance by gurus to reveal their sources. Miraculously great ideas materialise from nowhere.

Ed Omeara:

Failure to Validate: I can’t tell you how many of these folks come up with some statistically valid observations based on a qualitative study or deep dive on internal data, but never go to the trouble of validating it. “We interviewed 150 people and found these three factors were most important to them in the way they buy X”…but then they never go to the trouble of hypothesis testing or examining the variables in the real world! They just write-up a new book, register a trademark, develop a few seminar slides, and hit the speaking circuit.
Testing for Scale: And how many times have we read recently that Webinars are more efficient than trade shows? PR is more efficient than advertising? Blogging is more efficient than PR? And, then read sweeping declarations, quoted in all the best magazines, that obviously the leader on that function should “have a seat at the table”, and how every company should move all their wasted Wannamaker money into these more effective “strategies”? Yet, how many times does someone say, Gee, how much can that idea scale? or at what point doesn’t it work? How many email blasts are too many? Will 1000 more pr people really increase our revenue? How many blogs can a company meaningfully produce before everyone is stepping all over each other?

Cool follow-ups included David Maiser (strong comments in the discussion over there), and an interesting off-topic musing by Ken Boasso.

And in case you’re wondering about the Kawasaki Effect – in the two weeks following Guy’s post about 7000 new people visited this blog.
An unpredictable but awesome side effect also that this list was translated to other languages!
What can I say? The two years and a bit it took me to move from decision stage to actually getting this blog online are probably the most irresponsible thing I have done throughout my career.

Long term effect – the RSS counter broke the 200 barrier, which is really the highest compliment I could hope for.
Thank you for your attention, I will do my best to make it worth your while…

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The top 12 sins of Marketing Gurus (and their books)

yoda.jpgI thought I’d help Guy round up his Lies series, by writing about my top 12 favorite sins of marketing gurus and their books.

  1. Anecdotal evidence: Guru’s are always telling nice (even great) stories, giving lots of examples and anecdotes. Those can be a lot of fun and quite educational, but most are too specific to work for you, and when you want a more thorough justification it’s not necessarily there, thanks to the invention of best practices…
  2. Best practices: best practices are a result of reverse-engineering, so it’s like trying to figure out a cake recipe by using a lab analysis of its ingredients. Most are either too generalized to be helpful with specific problems, or too atomized to be restructured practically.
    “Best Practices” actually means: building on experience in a world of disruption and fluid rules ; Building on gut feelings on subjects that are built on complex, contradictory or just messy theoretical disciplines ; Using imitation in a world where very few players actually know what they’re doing and even they use a lot of trial and error.
    And when best practices are not powerful enough you can make them into rules… Continue reading